That light up ahead, what is it? What was it before I got here, straddling these yellow lines? What will it be when I can see it, when I will have arrived?
I cannot tell you. But I think it is . . . I’m still not sure.
It is now just barely Christmas Eve. I am off for three blessed days, and I mean blessed.
It is inexplicable, thank God.
You know that I am a mailman, and you can say with certainty that it is a busy season. It has been a month of 10, 11, 12, 13+ hour days, plus praying time on MAX. Other carriers with triple the seniority of me have been drafted to work later today once the sun rises, and they will work the day after Christmas, even some who have that day scheduled off. But not me, and I am only grateful and will not even try to explain it. I cannot.
I am off and being paid to celebrate Christmas.
For the past two days (Friday and Saturday), I have been on my Joy Route, the longest of my five and perhaps the longest in the entire two zip codes covered by my station. There is no word for my experience on this route Friday, and the word for Saturday is the same, but add “hard/easy” like a perfectly cooked egg.
Friday, the volume was substantial, oppressive in appearance, and when I gave my estimated time for doing it all the supervisor said that she’d add at least thirty minutes because I could not do it in that time, and that she had a couple of people to help when I called. So call when you need help, she said, so you can “make the truck”. Ok, I said, and I called God most of the day.
I did what I always do: got it all ready, loaded it, turned on my radio, and went out there to get it done. The music was again, perfectly curated, as if S****** N*****, the programmer and announcer for FM 89.9 could read my mind and then proceed to my soul. And at one point, she even said, “And here is something just for you,” and I swear I believed her. I just listened and prayed and watched and waited and worked like a, whatever. Like a reindeer does this time of year I suppose.
I do not know where the time went, because there was none. At various points on the route, I looked at my phone to see what it said and noted where I was on the route compared to where I have been in the past, with the idea of making a calculation of how much more time I would need to finish. After several checkpoints, I stopped looking, because each time I did I was ahead of where I should be. Soon enough, I settled into a rhythm and simply kept moving.
And then, around 2 p.m., a little after, I felt something new. I could not really cope with it, looking at addresses and mail and turning around to look for packages and getting in and out of the truck–and with the glorious music as a soundtrack for it all. I looked at my phone and I was still gaining time, so I just went with it. The feeling was, as I said, new, and I tried to give it a name. I thought about Christmas and its meaning and what I should feel about it, so I thought oh, this is humility. Yes, it must be humility (new enough to me). But, nope, I think it was not that. Awe, maybe? Yes, it was awe. I was in the presence, almost, of unutterable gracious benevolence and it was timeless to boot. Awe, I called it for a while, and I just kept moving, drenched by this presence and the awe of it.
But, that is not it either, really, “awe.” And it was not a feeling, either. It was outside me, but I was within it too, with great effect upon me. I have no idea.
When I was done with the work, I returned to the station thirty minutes before even I thought I would, and I just wandered off, walking out the lot and onto that very street up there in the photo. And then I just kept going.
I still am, and so are you . . .
Oh, I have it now, the word. It came to me as it does to all mankind, renewed in timeless fashion since the beginning. With me, surrounding me, drenching me that day and now.
It is, was, and will be: Emmanuel.
Emmanuel, “God with us.”